Monday, December 11, 2017

Cherry Wine: Flanders Red Recipe

Spent dried sour cherries in Flemish red.When it comes to adding fruit to sour beer I've long advocated waiting, both on the blog (and in American Sour Beers). This serves two purposes. First, it delays the decision point, allowing the brewer to taste the unaugmented beer and decide the optimal treatment for each carboy or barrel (blend, fruit, dry hop, drain etc.). Second, it allows you to drink the packaged sour beer while the fruit aromatics are still fresh and vibrant. But is that approach sacrificing anything?

Talking to Scott about his "two season" peach sour, and hearing the approaches at a few breweries (e.g., Wicked Weed - Red Angel has 1 lb per gallon of raspberries in the barrels at three weeks and then 3 lbs more per gallon at the end) got me thinking. Early fruit allows for yeast-interactions before the pH falls far enough to inhibit those enzymes; theoretically it could produce a richer perhaps "jammy" fruit profile. Reserving a portion of the fruit could adds back those aromatics that would be oxidized or volatilized by the end of aging.

The base beer for my first attempt at the technique was a Flemish red. The recipe is not far from numerous beers I'd brewed before except for two notable tweaks. I used American Munich/Vienna instead of European. I used pre-aged "Lambic" hops from Yakima Valley in hopes of pushing some of the fruity depth they can provide.

Homegrown sour cherries.While I enjoy cherries in pale lambic-type beers, they can easily dominate the subtle malt profile. I've had good results with them in sour reds in the past, and wanted to try staggered additions. I opted for Scott Labs 58W3 wine yeast for primary fermentation. A previous Flemish red had done well with another wine strain, and I hoped that given this strain was selected to free aromatics (bound terpenes and glycosides) from wine grapes, it might benefit the cherries. For ease of timing and considering that all of the bright-fresh aromatics are already gone, I added dried sour cherries a month into souring. Russian River adds dried sour cherries to the Pinot Noir barrels for Supplication along with the Brett, so I was in good company. As I usually do, I rinsed the dried fruit briefly in StarSan to remove the oil that prevents them from sticking.

Sour and dark cherries waiting for beer.Souring was provided by dregs from De Garde Saison Facile. And I can say without question they did a much better job than the other half of the batch with Wyeast Roeselare (no tasting today as it has a strong sulfur character).

Once the dried cherries had given their all, I racked onto a 2:1 combination of homegrown sour cherries and farmer's market sweet/dark cherries. I have read and heard from several reliable sources (Wild Brews and Dave Pyle) that the sour cherries of Belgium are somewhere between sweet and sour cherries in America.

The attendees to my February Sour Beer BYO Boot Camp in San Diego will have a chance to taste this beer (and blend it with several of my other dark and cherry sours) as those in Indianapolis did in November! The early bird $100 discount only runs through 12/15.

Cherry Wine

Finished beer under our cherry tree.Smell – The homegrown sour cherries really shine. It smells like the defrosting bag of fruit. Light spice, almost cinnamon, something I’ve gotten in the past from dried sour cherries. Not much malt coming through.

Appearance – Clear garnet. The base beer without fruit is red, the cherries provide depth and push it more burgundy. Small light-tan head, good retention.

Taste – The fruit flavor is true and saturated... jammy. The various types of cherries adding depth without muddling the overall fruit impression. Firm lactic acidity, with added sharpness from the fruit. The malt doesn’t have the oomph I expect from that amount of Munich and Vienna. Not much Brett character, but it does have more funky-depth than a kettle sour. A touch of perceived sweetness lingering with the fruit and almondy pits.

Mouthfeel – The high FG provides some substance to the otherwise crisp profile. Solid carbonation, not too much.

Drinkability & Notes – A showcase for cherries without being only about the fruit. One of the best cherry sours I’ve brewed. Saturated with fruit, and good balanced acidity. I’ve been enjoying this and it has been going quickly as I've been nervous that the gravity finished higher than I expected.

Changes for Next Time –  Maltiness could be firmer, will likely switch back to Weyermann for the Vienna and Munich. I'd get my timing better and add the dried cherries to the carboy before I transfer the beer in.

Recipe

Clear wort pumped into the kettle.Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 13.9
IBU: 13.3
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.018
ABV: 5.8%
Final pH: 3.27
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 90 Mins

Fermentables
-----------------
37.0% - 5 lbs Briess Borlander Munich Malt
33.3% - 4.5 lbs Briess Goldpils Vienna Malt
18.5% - 2.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewers malt
7.4% - 1 lbs Weyermann CaraRed
3.7% - .5 lbs Weyermann CaraAroma

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 158F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz YVH Lambic (Pellets, 2.00% AA) @ 90.0 min

Water
-------
5.5 g Calcium Chloride
.5 Whirlfloc Tablet

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
90
110
50
15
10
90

Fruit
-------
1 lbs Dried Sour Cherries
3 lbs Sour Cherries
1.5 lbs Dark/Sweet Cherries

Yeast
-------
Scott Labs 58W3
De Garde Saison Facile Dregs

Notes
-------
Recipe adjusted to reflect only half of the batch tasted here.

Brewed 2/19/17

Collected 7 gallons of 1.056 runnings from 8 gallon mash with 5.5 g of CaCl, and 1.5 gallon cold water sparge.

YVH lambic/aged hop pellets.Lambic hops from Yakima Valley Hops. Bagged. No idea on AA%, wort had almost no bitterness.

Chilled to 62F, shook to aerate, pitched 8 g of BM45 in one half, 5 g of 58W3 in the other. No other bugs, yet. Left at 70F to ferment.

3/5/17 Racked both to secondary.

BM45 - 1.026, pitched a pack of Roeselare

58W3 - 1.032, pitched De Garde Saison Facile dregs.

Left at ambient basement temperature, ~60F.

4/8/16 Added 1 lb of dried cherries to the 58W3 half. Rinsed in StarSan to remove any surface oil (more than sanitation).

7/21/17 Racked the 58W3 half onto ~3 lbs of sour cherries (half homegrown) and 1.5 lbs of sweet cherries. Frozen and defrosted, purged with CO2. Left the dried cherries behind.

10/1/17 Bottled both halves with rehydrated Pasteur Champagne. 4.75 gallons of each, 97 g of table sugar, aiming for 2.3 volumes of CO2. The non-cherry half had a slight sulfur aroma and foamed oddly during bottling.

Cherry 3.27 pH and FG of 1.018 (higher than I expected although it did drop considerably from when it was transferred).

I get a commission if you buy something after clicking the links to MoreBeer/Amazon/Adventures in Homebrewing/Great Fermentations!

Monday, November 27, 2017

New England Pale Ale: Brewing Video

NEIPA has a well-deserved reputation for short shelf-stability. I've heard homebrewers refer to it as intentionally poorly brewed... but that's like saying a souffle is poorly baked because it sinks minutes after you remove it from the oven. If there was a way to achieve a beer with the same juicy hop flavor and pillowy body plus long shelf life I wouldn't complain!

Finished chit malt NE Pale AleThere are brewers like John Kimmach, who says Heady Topper is at it's best at 10 weeks old. I've heard brewers from three or four other breweries advocate holding onto their hazy IPAs (especially the double-dry hopped sorts) for a month or two. Not exactly cellaring potential, but better than the versions that fall apart after a couple weeks.

Cold storage and minimizing oxidation both improve stability, but what else can we do to extend the life of hazy IPAs? Wheat and even more so oats contain higher concentration of manganese than barley malt. Manganese can catalyze oxidative reactions as well as increase protein solubilization. However, I don't think you can drop wheat and oats from a NEIPA without replacing the extra protein contribution, which adds body and head retention (not to mention haze).

To replace the protein usually imparted by flaked grains, Scott bought a sack of Best Chit Malt and shared a few pounds with me. Chit is essentially the Reinheitsgebot-approved replacement for unmalted barley. It is under-modified, retaining a range of long-chain proteins. Theoretically these proteins could fill the same role as the oats/wheat, enhancing foam and mouthfeel but without the associated drawback to stability. For the first try, I used chit at about the same rate I would flaked oats, 20%.

For hot-side hops, I went for a budget option as I did in my previous batch. For that last batch I used Chinook and Nugget to provide linalool and geraniol. For this batch I used Columbus and Simcoe. Columbus makes up a large portion of the kettle hops for many of Trillium's fantastic IPAs, providing a nice dank base-note to balance the fruity hops added on the cold-side. I added the Simcoe to the boil because the 3MH it contributes increases during the boil (while catty 4MMP decreases). Certain yeast strains have the ability to converts 3MH (grapefruit and passion fruit) to 3MHA (similar flavors with a lower threshold). Something we'll be playing with at Sapwood Cellars!

Rather than talk about the brewing process for the 200th time, I took videos of the key points in the process and posted them to my YouTube channel with my descriptions, plus a version without a voice-over. Enjoy! I'm hoping to do more of this, especially as the brewery gets up and running and I have more interesting action to record!



Good Chit NEIPA

Smell – Pleasant mixture of tropical and lightly dank. As always I appreciate a balance rather than the “straight juice” aromatics of some examples. If I want a fruit beer, I’ll drink a fruit beer! The volume could be turned up, despite the heavy hot-side, fermentor, and keg hopping it doesn’t leap out of the glass like my favorite batches. A result of the yeast or something else? Clearly it isn't malt aromatics in the way.

Appearance – It isn’t clear, but it certainly looks more like an unfiltered West Coast IPA than a standard NEIPA. I don’t brew for appearance, but there certainly is some eye-palate interaction that it doesn’t fit. There are some suggestions that above a certain point more proteins (especially large proteins) are likely to coagulate and drop from suspension. It was hazier the first few weeks, but it cleared up in the keg.

Taste – Crisp, missing the malt sweetness to support the fruity volatiles. The saturated hop flavor is nice, again walking that line between fruity (grapefruit and passion fruit) and dank. Malt is subdued, could use a boost from a portion of English malt or crystal malt. A friend commented that it has a zwickelbier-like maltiness, hard to argue with it being more subdued than most.

Mouthfeel – While the head lasts it is thick and luxurious. It really adds creaminess to the body. While retention started off lackluster for the first couple weeks, it really came into its own. Although after the head fades the body is lackluster. Thin, crisp, just a hint of tannins in the finish. The screen did a good job keeping the powder burn to a minimum.

Drinkability & Notes – It is a unique interpretation of the style. Somewhere between the crispness and cleanness of a Russian River IPA, and the fruity-tropical hop character of NEIPAs. While I don’t want sugary, I think the style benefits from a little perceived sweetness. Drinking this seven weeks after brewing I have to say that it did hold up better than my typical oat-heavy NEIPAs!

Changes for Next Time – A little iso-hop extract might add the longevity the head needs. In exchange I’d move the 10-minute addition later or slightly cool before adding the whirlpool addition. Maybe a small dose of light crystal malt to add sweetness?

Recipe

Batch Size: 11.00 gal
SRM: 3.8
IBU: 62
OG: 1.055
FG: 1.012
ABV: 5.6%
Final pH: 4.65
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68%
Boil Time: 75 Mins

Fermentables
----------------
80.0% - 20.0 lbs Rahr 2-row Brewer's Malt
20.0% - 5.0 lbs Best Chit Malt

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 156F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ 10 min
6.00 oz Columbus (Whole, 15.00% AA)  @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
4.00 oz Mosaic (Pellets, 12.25% AA)  @ Dry Hop Day 2
4.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2
2.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2
2.00 oz Simcoe (Cryo, 26.00%) @ Keg Hop
1.50 oz Citra (Cryo, 24.00%) @ Keg Hop
1.50 oz Mosaic (Cryo, 25.00%) @ Keg Hop

Other
-------
1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 mins

Water
--------
19.0 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
15.0 g Gypsum @ Mash
2.0 tsp 88% Lactic Acid @ Mash


Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
150
150
150
10
5
40

Yeast
-------
WLP013 White Labs London Ale

Notes
-------
Brewed 10/8/17

10 gallons filtered DC water and 6 gallons of distilled. All of the salts in at the start of the mash. 2 tsp of lactic acid to lower the mash pH from 5.47 to 5.23.

Sparged with 3 gallons of room-temperature distilled water.

Collected 14 gallons of 1.046 runnings.

Chilled to 76F, placed in the freezer for an hour before pitching, and shaking to aerate. An hour later down to 69F, moved to 63F room to ferment. Internal ~68F for most of primary.

10/10/17 Dry hopped. Around high krausen.

10/20/17 Kegged with the Cryo in the stainless steel canisters. Mosaic and Citra were pellets, Simcoe was powder.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Stonefruit Vanilla Nitro Sour!

One slice of white nectarine.Vanilla and fruit are an undeniable combination in desserts. As far as beer goes, it’s gained new popularity in Milkshake IPAs. But it isn't a new combination for sour beer, going back at least the original Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus (and more recently Zwanze 2016). I decided to try adding a vanilla bean to a quick sour with white peaches and nectarines to provide depth and balance.

My concept was similar to the "Pop" series from Grimm Artisanal Ales - although I was unaware of them until after brewing. I sampled the Pineapple variant while mine was carbonating and wasn't disappointed by the bold flavors! My base beer and process shared more than a few similarities with previous batches (including Rhubarb Berliner, Atomic Apricot). Simple pale grist including oats for mouthfeel, no-boil to retain fresh malt aromatics, and no hops in the kettle.

For souring, I turned to GoodBelly probiotics for the first time. While I could have selected a complimentary fruit flavor, I added two “Straight Shots.” Lacto grows remarkably quickly, so no need to make a starter if they are fresh. I only chilled the wort to 85F with my Therminator plate-chiller. There is no need to maintain a high temperature or worry too much about oxygen contact when souring with a pure culture, so I allowed it to slowly cool to my target pitching temperature of the ale yeast to follow. I boiled the remainder of the wort and it continued on to become Nelson Thyme Saison.

GoodBelly Straight Shot face.After a day of souring I pitched Safale S-04, and shortly after added a split vanilla bean - which incidentally have doubled in price over the last year! The following weekend I visited the local farmer's market and bought a total of 10 lbs of white peaches and nectarines (two of my favorite fruits for sour beer). The nectarines were perfectly juicy and aromatic a couple days later, peaches were a little dry and mealy but still usable. The beer was actually pretty good even before adding the fruit, with the vanilla playing with the doughy malt.

This recipe would be a good candidate for lactose to taste, to reinforce the perceived sweetness that vanilla and fruit contribute, but considering that I’m about to open a vegan brewery… I thought better of it. Instead to replace that “creaminess” I planned to serve the beer on beer gas through my stout faucet. The problem with sour beers (especially quick sours) is that their head retention is often lacking. To combat that, I lowered the pH of the wort pre-souring to inhibit proteolysis by the Lactobacillus.

I wanted more insurance than that though. Reduced isomerized alpha acids can be terrifically foam-positive, but I couldn't find a reasonably sized/priced homebrew-scale source (e.g., Head Master). I so emailed a couple producers and Kalsec obliged with samples of their Tetralone and Hexalone (tetrahydro- and hexahydro-iso-alpha-acids). These are already isomerized – so no need to boil them to impart bitterness like the typical CO2 hop extracts. I added 1 g of the Tetra at kegging for 5 gallons, enough for 6 IBUs. Incidentally Tetra-hop extract used by Miller to allow them to sell beer in clear bottles with no risk of skunking. Could be eye-catching to serve a fruited sour from clear bottles...

Creamsicle Weisse: Stonefruit
Tetralone from Kalsec.
Smell – Nice fresh white-stonefruit aroma, especially as it warms. Some doughiness (like uncooked pie crust). Vanilla adds depth, but isn’t immediately recognizable. Pleasant aroma, but doesn’t jump out of the glass - partly due to low carbonation.

Appearance – Not a spectacular head in terms of volume or retention, but pretty good considering it is a no-boil fruited quick sour! Tetra seems to have done a pretty good job. The creamy nitro-head doesn’t last to the last sip like some of the stouts I’ve run through the tap, but it is solid. The base itself is hazy and pale yellow.

Taste – Flavor has a nice tartness, sort of citric in the finish. Bright and quick. GoodBelly's L. plantarum did an admirable job, no weird Lacto-gaminess.  Solid fruit, but not the intensity I was hoping from such good nectarines. In some previous no-boil’s the doughy flavor has played well with the fruit, but in this case it muddies the fruit and vanilla. I don’t taste a contribution from the hop extract, so it likely could be increased. Nice lingering white peach aroma.

Mouthfeel – While the head survives it adds creaminess to the palate. Other than the low carbonation, a pretty typical light-sour thin body.

Drinkability & Notes – It’s a really pleasant, sort of weird/unique sour fruit beer. A good first try at something new, but I probably wouldn't order a second pour of it at a bar with other things to sample.

Changes for Next Time – Maybe a little light crystal malt to add some perceived sweetness. Boil before souring. Double to hop extract to see if that improves the head retention. More fruit (or better peaches) and maybe even another vanilla bean if it needs it. Half a pound of lactose would be a nice addition if you want it to add a little sweetness. 1/2 tsp dissolved in warm water in the bottom of the glass cuts through the acidity, make it more like dessert.



Recipe


Batch Size: 5.5 gal
SRM: 3.0
White nectarines, onto the peaches!IBU: 6.0
OG: 1.044
FG: 1.011
ABV: 4.3% (ignoring the fruit)
Final pH: 3.46
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

Fermentables
-----------------
81.8% - 9 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
18.2% - 2 lbs Quaker Quick Oats
6 lbs White Nectarines - Day 7
4 lbs White Peaches - Day 7

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 152F

Hops
-------
1 g Kalsec Tetralone (Iso Extract) @ Kegging

Water
-------
3.00 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
2.25 g Gypsum @ Mash
2.00 tsp 88% Lactic Acid @ Mash
0.50 tsp 88% Lactic Acid @ Sparge
3.00 tsp 88% Lactic Acid @ Primary

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
85
75
90
15
10
90

Other
-------
1 Vanilla Bean @ Primary Day 5

Yeast
-------
GoodBelly Straight Shot
SafAle S-04 English Ale

Notes
-------
Brewed 8/26/17

Mash pH initially 5.50 at mash temp with .5 tsp. 5.38... 5.27... 5.12 (~5.37 at room temp). .5 tsp Lactic mixed in with cold sparge water.

Heated to 170F, ran off ~6 gallons of 1.044 runnings through the plate chiller at 85F. Pitched 2 Goodbelly Straight Shots and added 2 tsp of lactic: pH 4.67. 1 tsp more and got it to 4.45. Left at 68F to sour and cool for the brewer's yeast. Pitched S-04 without rehydration 30 hours after pitching the Lacto. Left at 68F ambient.

8/30/17 Added one vanilla bean, split length-wise.

8/31/17 Down to pH 3.33, but doesn't taste that acidic.

9/02/17 Added 6 lbs of White Nectarines and 4 lbs of White Peaches (weight before pitting and slicing). Bagged in new nylon knee-highs to contain the pulp.

9/17/17 Kegged, squeezing out the fruit bags. Added 1 g of Tetra hop extract to the keg first mixed with 50 g of beer.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Nelson Thyme Honey Saison

Pure Nelson Thyme Honey Honey is remarkable. The 12 oz/375 g in this saison contained the sugar paid-out by hundreds of thousands of flowers that coevolved with honeybees, incentivizing them to transport their genetic material. Those bees flew a combined distance in the tens of thousands of miles. Then, by flapping their wings to speed evaporation of the nectar, they concentrated the flowers' aromatics and sugars, preserving both for years (or potentially millennia). Boiling the honey drives off the aromatics, so with all of the effort it took to collect and concentrate them I save honey for cold-side additions!

I’ve brewed with more than a dozen honey varieties over the years (including sourwood, gallberry, raspberry, blueberry, acacia, buckwheat, orange blossom, rosemary, meadowfoamheather, and wildflower). "Fruit" honey is the easiest place to start as they are the most approachable (bright, fruity, and sweet). However, it often takes 20-30% of the sugar in the batch to really contribute their unique character. Over the last year I’ve become fond of honey gathered from herbs. These have more punch (not surprising given that herbs are prized for their intense aromas). Honey Bunches of Saison (rosemary honey) was delicious and distinct with less than 10% of the fermentables from the honey, but it was a little one dimensional with the honey overwhelming the late-boil hops.

I’d been tipped-off to look for thyme honey while I was visiting New Zealand. We didn’t see any at the honey stands we stopped at along the road from Christchurch to Nelson (although we did buy a jar of wildflower). Luckily while I was brewing at Marchfest in Nelson, Audrey visited the local farmer’s market and bought 500 g. I though some Nelson Sauvin dry-hopping would be a good fruity-counterpoint to the bold herbal character of the honey, and really make this a Nelson Saison. I opted for Chinook and Nugget for a cheapskate route to beta-citronellol as in my biotransformation NEIPA. I considered adding a bottle of Nelson Sauvignon blanc too (ala my Nu Zuland recipe), but when I tasted the beer it already had enough flavor.
Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend!
Fermentation was provided by my house saison blend, available once again for a limited release from Bootleg Biology today through October 30!

It's Nelson Thyme

Smell – That thyme honey is out of control! Glad I didn't add the whole jar, wish I’d gone even lower. Herbal, woodsy, and waxy. Just a hint of that earthiness I associate with buckwheat honey. There is a faint citrusy-hoppiness, but the classic white-wine Nelson is mostly obscured.

A glass of Saison with Hops and Honey from New ZealandAppearance – Radiant yellow body. Cloudy without being murky. Fantastically airy yet solid foam sitting on top. Beautiful.

Taste – Flavor is brighter than the nose, big citrus (lemon mostly) with a touch of crisp tartness. Honey is still there, but seems more balanced than the aroma. Still strong herbal, although not explicitly thyme. White wine in the finish. Mellow, but present hop bitterness. Malt is restrained. Yeast is buried under the honey and hops. Hint of classic leathery Brett funk in the finish. Lingering retronasal-olfactory is fantastic blend of yeast and honey and hops.

Mouthfeel – Light and crisp, solid carbonation. No harshness or tannins.

Drinkability & Notes – The honey has actually faded and integrated over the last few weeks. More balanced and citrusy. Happy with the combination of hot-side hops as a citrusy base, disappointed with the contribution of four ounces of Nelson Sauvin between the fermentor and keg.

Changes for Next Time – Down to 8 oz thyme honey. Could up the Nelson Sauvin, or swap it for something less precious.

RecipeThe wort coming to a boil
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 3.0
IBU: 30.1
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.004
ABV: 7.2%
Final pH: 4.16
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
76.6% - 9 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
17.0% - 2 lbs Quaker Quick Oats
6.4% - 12.0 oz Pure Nelson Thyme Honey (closest I could find online)

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 152F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz Chinook (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Steep/Whirlpool
2.00 oz Nugget (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Steep/Whirlpool
2.00 oz Nelson Sauvin (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 5
2.00 oz Nelson Sauvin (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Keg Hop

Water
-------
3.00 g Calcium Chloride
2.00 tsp Lactic Acid
2.25 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
85
75
90
15
10
90

Yeast
-------
The Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend

Notes
-------
Brewed 8/26/17

Mash pH initially 5.50 at mash temp with .5 tsp. 5.38... 5.27... 5.12 (~5.37 at room temp). .5 tsp Lactic mixed in with cold sparge water. Collected 7.5 gallons at 1.044.

Added hops at flame-out after chilling the 7.5 gallons of wort remaining to 185F. Recirculated for 30 minutes before running off the saison portion. 1.054. Chilled to 82F and pitched the House culture (9 month old harvest that had been in the fridge, gushed a little 4 hours with first runnings to get going). Left at 78F ambient to ferment. Good activity by the next morning. Ambient stayed between 77-79F for primary.

8/30/17 Fermentation appeared finished. Added 12 oz of "Pure Nelson" Thyme Honey to primary on the saison (effective OG ~1.059). Warmed in a water bath and then the microwave until dissolved.

8/31/17 Dry hopped with 2 oz of Nelson, loose.

9/10/17 Kegged the Nelson half with 3 oz of table sugar and 2 oz of keg hops.

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Beautiful rocky head

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Amber Special Bitter Recipe

Audrey invited her coworkers over for a mini-Oktoberfest in our backyard. In preperation, she brewed a batch that most of them would enjoy, a low-ABV ESB-ish malty ale that looks a bit like an Oktoberfest. As you can tell from the drop in post-frequency, more of my time is being sucked up by Sapwood Cellars (we're reviewing the lease now). Someone is going to have to keep the taps filled at home!

Her plan was to ferment with White Labs 002 English Ale. The Fuller's strain is a quick fermenting and flocculating yeast perfect in low-gravity ales given its low attenuation (for example). Mild enough yeastiness that it shouldn't be off-putting to casual craft beer drinkers. When we stopped by the local homebrew store they were down to a single tube, enough of an excuse for a split-batch. The description of WLP013 (London Ale) with an "oakey ester character" appealed to Audrey, and I had never used it before. I have used the Wyeast equivalent in name and origin (WY1028) in batches of Courage Russian Imperial Stout, but not for anything similar to this.

The shop was also out of East Kent Goldings, so we swapped to Challenger for the aroma addition. Challenger isn't as orangey as EKG, but they have a wonderfully mellow herbaceous quality. Out of flaked wheat too, so we opted for torrified "puffed" wheat (something Dan Paquette of Pretty Things suggested to Nathan and I for bitters years ago). Torrified grains requires milling, but are gelatinized like flaked wheat and thus can be added directly to the mash without pre-cooking. It contributes a slightly toasty flavor too. Given substitutions for yeast, malt, and hops it likely isn't a surprise that I usually do my homebrew shopping online!

Fall Special Bitter: WLP002

Smell – Caramel maltiness leads. Clean, lightly estery, classic English without being minerally. Faint tea-like hop aroma.

Appearance – Mild haze in the copper/amber body. Terrific retention, thanks to the torrefied wheat. Wonderfully sticky, high- relief lacing.

Taste – Toastiness increases to support the caramel, and is joined by a stronger herbal hop-note. Well rounded malt flavor. Mild bitterness in the tail. No alcohol presence. Bare hint of diacetyl-butterscotch as it reaches room-temperature.

Mouthfeel – Medium body, medium carbonation. Just a hair of astringency in the finish.

Drinkability & Notes – Fits the Special Bitter metrics, but tastes maltier, more like a small ESB.

Changes for Next Time – It would be difficult to change it a little and improve it. A local maximum. Not my favorite English session ale, I tend to prefer brighter and hoppier, but I don’t think this would improve without fundamentally changing what it is.

Fall Special Bitter: WLP013

Smell – Hoppier, surprisingly. Might just be associating the slight citrusy (orange) ester profile of WLP013 with English hops. Caramel takes a backseat comparatively.

Appearance – Similar, although the head isn’t quite as long-lasting or sticky.

Taste – Not as direct as the other half. The malt isn’t as clear and fresh. The hops are more saturated and full tasting. Similar mellow bitterness.

Mouthfeel – A hair fuller, without the mild astringency. Carbonation is a bit higher as I poured this one second.

Drinkability & Notes – I’d be less-certain of what this one is. The esters feel more distracting in this malt-focused beer. I’d actually been enjoying this one more than the other, but side-by-side it doesn’t work as well as I’d though.

Changes for Next Time – I’d go even hoppier on this one to play-off the yeast. Double the Challenger!

October Special Bitter

Batch Size: 11.00 gal
SRM: 12.0
IBU: 32.3
OG: 1.044
FG: 1.010
ABV: 4.4%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
80.0% - 15 lbs Crisp Floor-Malted Maris Otter
10.7% - 2 lbs Torrified Wheat
8.0% - 1.5 lbs Briess Caramel 40
1.3% - 0.25 lbs Briess Midnight Wheat

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 152F

Hops
-------
1.25 oz Nugget (Pellets, 13.6% AA) @ 60 min
1.00 oz Challenger (Pellet, 6.8% AA) @ 20 min Whirlpool

Yeast
-------
White Labs WLP002 English Ale
or
White Labs WLP013 London Ale

Water
-------

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
50
30
50
15
10
90

Notes
-------
Brewed 9/3/17

Chilled to 80F, left at 63F overnight to cool. In the morning, pitched WLP002 into FV2, WLP013 into FV1. Both fresh packs (May and June production). Shook to aerate, left at 63F to ferment. The WLP013 half was fermenting well by the next day, but the WLP002 half wasn't really rocking until day three.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Citra-Galaxy NEIPA: Bioconversion

There has been passionate discussion about hop bioconversion, especially in relation to NEIPA. Studies have shown geraniol in hops like Citra is converted during fermentation into citronellol when there is excess linalool present. But what does this mean for your beer? I talked to Stan Hieronymus when planning an experiment based on his suggestion to use other linalool and geraniol rich hops to mimic Citra. He directed me to a more recent study from the same team that suggested the thiol 4-MSP (aka 4-MMP) has a synergistic effect with these terpenes. Some hops (e.g., Citra, Centennial) contain linalool, geraniol, and 4-MSP and thus can be used as a single hop to create a fantastic IPA.

Chinook and Nugget hops.The question I set out to answer was whether the same flavors can be achieved piecemeal by adding individual hops to fill in the background flavors and then dry hop with fancy hops to lend varietal character. It is a practical consideration because hops like Citra and Galaxy are in short supply, and often cost four times the price of less-sexy varieties. If we can only get our hands on a couple boxes of Citra for Sapwood Cellars' first year, how do we maximize the amount of Citra-forward IPA brewed?

The problem with blindly relying on the science regarding individual compounds is that you can miss the IPA through the hops. I selected Chinook (geraniol), Nugget (linalool), and Eureka (4-MSP). However, each contributes a variety of other aromatics, how would these come through?

Citra and Galaxy Hops.Most of the bioconversion happens to terpenes extracted on the hot side, so how important is a mid-fermentation dose of dry hops? At the end of the combined boil I added Chinook, Nugget, and Eureka for the whirlpool. On day two, I dry hopped one fermentor with more Chinook and Nugget and the other with Citra and Galaxy. I then keg-hopped both with Citra/Galaxy in stainless steel hop filters (rather than the nylon knee-highs I'd been using).

I hooked the two kegs up in the kegerator without paying attention to which beer was on which tap. I was able to identify them almost immediately with my first carbonated sample a week later. I thought that was enough to skip the triangle test and go straight to preference. I brought a growler of each to the DC Homebrewer’s August meeting. There were lots of strong opinions (I didn't tell the homebrewers what I was testing, but asked them to focus on the hop character). With 11 votes to 8, the beer with Citra and Galaxy as the first dry hop addition won, but not by as much as I would have guessed. Here are select comments that each elicited:

Cheaper Hops - Nugget/Chinook: West Coast, spicy, subtle, vegetal, fruitier, aromatic (several), "Galaxy/Mosaic," more bitter (several), minerally, crisper.

Cheater Hops - Citra/Galaxy: Piney, fruity, juicy, berry, fresh orange, hoppier, sweeter, restrained, rounder, more dry hop, more aromatic.

These results were of the beers after less than two weeks in the keg. While freshness is essential for NEIPA given their sensitivity to oxygen, a little extra time post-fermentation can be beneficial. I’ve gotten a few emails from brewers disappointed with the “juiciness” of their beer a few days after kegging. It often takes time for the yeast (which is coated in hop compounds) and lupulin to settle out and clear the way for those juicy flavors. In this case I also found the extraction of the keg hops took a couple weeks, with the Cheaper Hop half tasting more like Citra and Galaxy now a month after kegging.

Milled barley and flaked oats.I think this experiment contradicts the old adage that dry hopping only effects aroma. Flavor and aroma are inextricably linked. Dry hopping can even decrease IBUs, or it can add bitterness depending on how much iso-alpha is in the beer already. There are few simple rules in brewing!

For my tastes too much maltiness distracts from the hops in NEIPAs. I don’t care for the full Maris Otter crackery flavor that some examples have. For this batch I started with a similar malt bill to my previous NEIPA, but subbed in Golden Promise for about 2/3 of the base malt. Golden Promise is softer than some of the other British base malts, and I thought it worked well here to increase the perception of maltiness without distracting.

Cheaper Hops

Smell – Nice mix of bright citrus juice (orange) and more classic Pacific-Northwest hop-bag resin. Has some of that bold Citra/Galaxy tropical, but it is a component rather than a feature. Toasty notes, nice depth addition from the Golden Promise.

Appearance – Maximum haze without muddiness. Slightly darker than some of my previous batches, which likely increases the appearance of haze. Nice head, but retention isn't remarkable.

Taste – Falls a little short of full-on NEIPA, lacking that wonderful saturated juicy hop flavor. Although the fullness of the hop character has increased while sitting on the keg hops. Pineapple, orange candy, and dank. Slightly sharp bitterness, a bit lupulin bite in the throat.

Mouthfeel – Smooth, but a little chalky in the finish.

Drinkability & Notes – A nice solid NEIPA with some character that might appeal to the cross-over West Coast drinker. Certainly nice to be able to get that good an IPA from 2/3 inexpensive hops, but it isn’t fooling anyone.

Cheater hops on the right, Cheaper hops on the left.

Cheater Hops

Smell – Similar notes of pineapple and orange, but without an undercurrent of resin. Not an especially amped nose compared recent batches with London III, lacking the oomph of my favorite NEIPAs. Perhaps the malt getting in the way?

Appearance – Identical.

Taste – It has that saturated fancy hop (4-MSP) flavor. Bright, fruity, really juicy. Nice toasty-malty note in the finish, lingering with just a touch of resin. Firm bitterness. The aftertaste is where I really get the Citra-Galaxy rounded tropical fruit compared to the Cheaper hops.

Mouthfeel – Seems slightly crisper, less chalky.

Drinkability & Notes – I’m a sucker for that full fruity flavor with a slight weirdness from the hops. Drinkable and wonderfully hoppy. The hot-side additions of less expensive hops really worked in this batch!

Changes for Next Time – Clearly that early dry hop addition isn’t all about bio-conversion. I’ll be focusing my linalool and geraniol additions at the end of the boil and 4-SMP hops at that early dry hop.

Running the wort into a BrewBucket.Recipe

Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 3.8
IBU: 78.1
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.016
ABV: 5.8%
Final pH: 4.52
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
37.6% - 5 lbs Simpsons Golden Promise
22.5% - 3 lbs Rahr 2-row Brewer's Malt
21.1% - 2.8 lbs Quaker Quick Oats
18.8% - 2.5 lbs Weyermann Carafoam

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 154F

Hops
-------
1.00 oz Nugget (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ 15 min
2.00 oz Chinook (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Whirlpool 30 min
2.00 oz Nugget (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Whirlpool 30 min
1.00 oz Eureka (Pellets, 18.00% AA) @ Whirlpool 30 min

Cheaper Hops Option:
3.00 oz Chinook (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2
3.00 oz Nugget (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2

Cheater Hops Option:
3.00 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2
3.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2

Both
1.50 oz Citra (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Keg Hop
1.50 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ Keg Hop

Water
-------
5 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
4 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
.5 tsp Lactic Acid @ Mash

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
90
90
90
10
5
45

Yeast
-------
SafAle S-04 English Ale

Notes
-------
Scaled to be brewed as either half of the batch.

Brewed 8/6/17 with Collin

Mash pH initially 5.55 pre-acid. Acid brought it down to 5.26. Around 5.4 if it had been cooled.

Whirlpool hops added right at flame-out.

Used ice to get it down to 70F. 5 gallons into each fermentor. Shook to aerate and pitched S-04 directly. Left at 64F to ferment.

Up to ~68F internal by 24 hours.

After two days down to 1.024 (60% AA) added 3 oz Nugget/Chinook to FV1, and 3 oz each Galaxy/Citra to FV2. Fermentation slowing down. Increased ambient temperature to 68F.

8/16/17 Kegged both. ~4 gallons of FV1, 4.5 of FV2. Quad-flushed. 1.5 oz each of Citra and Galaxy in the new screens, weighted with marbles.

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